Your brand is one of your most powerful assets. It tells existing and potential customers what your business is about. It makes your company instantly recognizable in the marketplace. It creates associations between what customers require and your ability to fulfill those requirements. You spend countless hours and dollars investing in your brand—establishing it, defining it, shaping it, and advertising it. But many companies overlook some of the most effective brand management possible: branding your business to your employees to create loyal advocates within your ranks.
It takes one customer interaction with a less-than-engaged employee to sour the brand loyalty you’ve worked so hard to build. Rewards and outreach to your employees do work, but they must be just as strategic as your customer-facing programs. Beginning with recruitment should be the first step.
Clearly Define Your Brand
Remember, potential employees are also potential customers. If your recruiting practices foster brand loyalty from the beginning, you’re more likely to increase the attraction of working for your company. Consider encouraging job seekers to take an online survey regarding employee culture before they apply. It’s a tool you can use not only to see if the job seeker would be a good fit within your company, but also provide information to the potential employee to show the benefits of working for you.
Clear and concise onboarding of your brand is critical to employees’ understanding of your company and what you stand for. Make sure they know how you differ from your competitors. Express how your core values, your mission statement, and your brand are all connected. Making your employees ambassadors of your brand also gives a greater number of voices opportunity to do the speaking. Make sure they’re speaking the language you want associated with your brand.
Show Employees What’s In It for Them
Establishing an employee advocacy program is one way to gauge your employees’ brand loyalty and help steer the message they’re putting into the world. Giving them room on social media platforms or the company website to advocate for the company can help them feel like a bigger part of the team, and provide them authority in speaking about their experience working for your company. But asking them to showcase their loyalty publicly also means they have to be willing to go to bat for you. Developing an incentive system helps not only give employees reason to become a vocal advocate for you, it shows them you appreciate their efforts, giving you more opportunity to prove you value them. This loyalty means they’ll be more likely to do their best work for you, as well as increasing their chance of recommending their workplace to job seekers as a great place to work.
Give Them the Right Tools
Not everyone is a marketer. Not everyone knows how to engage online for a company, as opposed to a personal account on Twitter or Instagram.
Sponsor workshops where workers from different departments can teach others valuable skills to be used in online advocacy. Have marketing educate on building brand awareness, while a salesperson can run through product details to answer any questions potential customers online may have.
Social media is also not the only place advocacy lives. Conferences, networking events, and other professional events are ripe for brand advocacy. Make sure those attending these events have a map of goals that align with your brand message so they can speak with authority to those outside the company. It’s not just for recruitment, either. Putting your brand out there for vendors and other B2B contacts can encourage growth of important business relationships across the board. Make your company one people not only want to work for, but work with as well.
Evaluate and Evolve
No employee brand loyalty program will get it right on the first try. It’s a good idea to frequently assess your employees’ opinions on how brand ambassadorship is working for them. Whether you ask once a month, once a quarter, or biannually, assessing what ideas worked and what didn’t helps you hone your brand loyalty programs. Lose the duds, refine the marginal successes, and expand the methods that were resoundingly positive. By getting employee feedback on the challenges they faced, you can evolve your strategy for their advocacy as much as you do your customer-facing strategies for brand growth and recognition. Your employees will gain a sense of accomplishment and teamwork when their ideas lead to improvements of internal brand management, and they’ll feel valued for it. After all, they’ll be seeing the benefits of their ambassadorship as well, which will contribute to their loyalty and productivity overall.
People want to love where they work. They want to believe in what they do, and they want to make their work environment better for others. By putting the power of your brand in their hands, you’re giving them a way to invest in it. Their voices, their time, and their attention mean as much as those of repeat customers, and they’re in a position to help you bring your company greater rewards with their loyalty. Don’t overlook your workforce as a strong brand advocate already at your fingertips. They just might be your best possible brand ambassadors.